An ambitious statewide transportation measure, championed by Gov. Janet Napolitano and a cadre of Arizona’s most powerful interest groups, has failed to make the November ballot.
Secretary of State Jan Brewer announced Monday that Proposition 203, the TIME initiative, had fallen thousands of signatures short of the 153,365 needed to qualify.
Nearly half of the 260,698 signatures submitted by last month’s deadline were tossed out.
“I am very surprised that a ballot measure ended up with over 42 percent of its signatures being invalid,” Brewer said in a statement. “That is among the largest overall invalid rates that I can recall ever seeing from a citizens initiative drive.”
The initiative, backed by business and economic development groups, would have asked voters for a 1-cent state sales tax hike to finance $42 billion worth of freeways, trains, buses and other transportation needs.
Homebuilders had agreed to support the measure in exchange for amending the plan to eliminate a requirement to increase development impact fees.
Initiative supporters typically turn in many more signatures than required to provide a cushion.
Ineligible signatures and invalid petition sheets are eliminated at the outset. Then, recorders in Arizona’s 15 counties verify voter registrations through random samples of 5 percent of signatures.
That process wiped out 122,247 signatures.
Marty Shultz, one of the leaders of the campaign, told Capitol Media Services he was surprised by the result. But Shultz said the organization is contemplating legal action to see if a judge will conclude that more of the signatures should be included in the total.
Brewer’s office has qualified six measures for the November ballot so far, disqualified two and three more initiatives are still being verified by county recorders.